Follicular units, or small hair groupings, are nowadays the basis to develop hair transplants. They were discovered in the 80s, and by making the most of hair properties, they implied an important improvement in hair surgery.
The follicular unit (FU) is the key element of hair transplant, as the scalp does not grow in a separate way. On the contrary, hair grows in small groups made up of two, three or even four hairs, making small hair families. It is, therefore, necessary to understand the following concepts:
- One follicular unit is made up of 2.5 follicles, where one follicle means one hair.
- So, 100 follicular units account for around 2,500 hairs.
Every follicular unit is made up of:
- 1, 2, 3 or 4 hairs in the same unit.
- Around nine sebaceous glands associated with hair follicles.
- The peri follicle (a collagen belt surrounding the hair follicles).
Besides, follicle units are different among races. Caucasian have around two and three hairs while Asian have one and black people have two hairs on each follicular unit. Extracting the FU will involve preserving it on suitable temperature and humidity conditions to keep its properties and, consequently, guarantee the success of the surgery.
For a successful surgery, the extracted follicular units are carefully treated so they can remain intact until they are transplanted. The key to guaranteeing the correct hair density is to work with a bigger number of follicular units per session. Hair calibre is also a key factor, as the thicker (over 80 micra) and denser the FU (over 70), the better the results.
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